NASHVILLE, Tenn. A Bible publisher's answered prayer is about to become a dream come true for potentially millions of Chinese Christians: a modern translation of the New Testament in their own language.
Holman Bible Publishers has received a printing of 20,000 Chinese Standard Bible New Testaments, described as the first direct Chinese translation by scholars from the original Greek. Copies are now being sold in the United States, Canada and Brazil.
"Our goal is that Chinese Christians would read this translation and love it," said Phill Burgess, executive director of Holman Bible Outreach International. "The translation that Chinese Christians have been using up to now, the Chinese Union Version, was translated into Chinese from an English copy in the 1920s. The language in that translation is archaic. This one is easier to understand since it relates to the modern Chinese language."
"This request was an answer to prayer," Burgess said. "Having the opportunity to get the New Testament into the hands of Chinese-speaking people is a precious honor for us."
Publishing the Bibles in China (translating, editing and design) would be a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process, said Tim Jordan, an executive editor with B&H Publishing Group, which houses Holman Bible Publishers.
"In the future, LifeWay hopes to get legal approval from the Chinese government to publish Bibles in China," Jordan said. "Until then our primary focus will stay in the U.S., Canada and Brazil." The Bibles, however, are printed in Shenzhen, China, and transported back to LifeWay's distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn.
Having a current readable Bible in Chinese is important, if based on nothing but the numbers. Worldwide, an estimated 1.17 billion people are native speakers of Chinese. While spoken Chinese varies from region to region, the written language is common to most readers.
"This new translation is an investment," Jordan said. "We'll watch and see what the demand for the new Bible is."